James L. Reveal

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James Lauritz Reveal
Botanist James L. Reveal, August 23, 2009
Botanist James L. Reveal, August 23, 2009
Born March 29, 1941
Reno, Nevada
Died January 9, 2015(2015-01-09) (aged 73)
Ithaca, New York
Nationality American
Alma mater Utah State University
Scientific career
Fields Botany
Institutions University of Maryland
Author abbrev. (botany) Reveal

James Lauritz Reveal (March 29, 1941 – January 9, 2015)[1] was a U.S. botanist best known for his contributions to the genus Eriogonum and for his work on suprageneric names. His website, at PlantSystematics.org,[2] also presents material on plant taxonomy including the Reveal system.[3] He published extensively on North American flora, was a member of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, and was one of the authors of the APG II and APG III classifications.

At the time of his death, Reveal was a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, adjunct professor at Cornell University's Department of Plant Biology and honorary curator at the New York Botanical Garden.[4]


Early life and education[edit]

James Lauritz Reveal was born on March 29, 1941, in Reno, Nevada to Arlene Hadfield Reveal and Jack Lilburn Reveal (1912-1988), a librarian and a forester/botanist, respectively.[5][6][7] Reveal attended Utah State University (B.S. 1964, M.S. 1966) and received his Ph.D. from Brigham Young University in 1969. He held a post-doctoral fellowship with the Smithsonian Institution from 1967 to 1969.


In 1969, Reveal joined the Botany faculty at the University of Maryland, serving as director of the Norton-Brown Herbarium of the University of Maryland between 1979 and 1999. During his tenure, the Norton-Brown Herbarium amassed one of the greatest collections of Polygonaceae subfam. Eriogonoideae in the world.[8]

Reveal's research interests included botanical studies in the American West, especially endangered and threatened species. He studied the history of botanical exploration in the New World and botanical nomenclature and taxonomy as well, with much of his research and writing devoted to the Polygonaceae subfamily Eriogonoideae, commonly known as the wild buckwheats. His interest in combining history and botany led to projects on botanical history of colonial Maryland and on the botanical discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, about which he wrote several books and articles.[8] A prolific collector, author, and speaker, Reveal collected more than 9,000 plant specimens from North America, Central America, and China, and published over 500 papers; he presented more than 100 invited talks.[9]

As a member of the Smithsonian Institution's Endangered Species Committee (1974-1982), Reveal was instrumental in attaining the addition of endangered plant species to the original Endangered Species Act.[5]

Reveal discovered or identified over fifty plant varieties, most of these discoveries being flowering plants of the American Southwest. In 1968, Reveal identified five new plant varieties at a Nevada nuclear testing site. In 1981, Reveal and Norlyn James Bodkin, then professor of Botany at James Madison University, identified a new lily variety, the first new plant discovery along the eastern U.S. seaboard since the 1940s. They named the new variety of Virginia Wake Robin Trillium pusillum var. monticulum (Shenandoah Wake Robin).[10][5][11][12]

In 1978, Reveal married his University of Maryland colleague, the botanist C. Rose Broome (later with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture). They collaborated on many research projects, most notably the botanical studies of colonial Maryland and explorations in Mexico that identified two new plant varieties.[5] Reveal helped document the flora of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic and assisted in Broome's 1979 publication of the first checklist of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plant Species in Maryland.[13]

In 1992, Reveal's illustrated 'Gentle Conquest: The Botanical Discovery of North America was published. Gentle Conquest encompasses the history of botanical exploration in the New World from the first settlement to the end of the Western frontier.[14]

Reveal retired from the Botany Department at the University of Maryland in 1999, but remained active, holding emeritus appointments including Honorary Curator of the New York Botanical Garden (2003-2015) and Adjunct Professor at Cornell University (2007-2015), working on the Intermountain Flora project and collecting plant specimens throughout several Western U.S. states, including California, Colorado, and Nevada.[4] He made numerous contributions to the website, Discovering Lewis & Clark.[15]

In 2009, Reveal received the North American Rock Garden Society's Edgar T. Wherry award for his contributions to the genus Eriogonum.[16] Reveal died on January 9, 2015 in Ithaca, New York.[8]

Reveal system[edit]

Reveal made major contributions to the systematic taxonomy of the flowering plants. in 1997 he published his own system of classification online in ten parts[17] as lecture notes comparing the major systems in use at that time, but without accompanying rationale.[18]

Following this Reveal became an author with the consensus Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) on the APG II 2003[19] and APG III 2009[20][21] processes. Although this largely supplanted the earlier and competing systems, he collaborated with Robert Thorne on his system (2007),[22] and subsequently continued to develop his own system.[23][24]

Eriogonum- a genus of wild buckwheats native to North America James Reveal worked on his entire life.


Reveal made major contributions to the systematics of Polygonaceae subfamily Eriogonoideae, and other families. For his many contributions to botany, seven species and one genus have been named in his honor (patronyms).[8]

  • Castilleja revealii N. H. Holmgren (Orobanchaceae)
  • Eriogonum revealianum S. L. Welsh (=E. corymbosum var. revealianum (S. L. Welsh) Reveal)(Polygonaceae)
  • Montanoa revealii H. Rob. (Asteraceae)
  • Rumfordia reveallii H. Rob. (Asteraceae)
  • Koanophyllon revealii Turner (Asteraceae)
  • Cupressus revealiana (Silba) Bisbee (Cupressaceae)
  • Oreocarya revealii W. A. Weber & R. C. Witmann (Boraginaceae)
  • Revealia R. M. King & H. Rob. (Asteraceae)

Selected publications[edit]

See C.V.[4]

Web based publications[edit]


  1. ^ "James L. Reveal obituary". Ithaca Journal. January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ Reveal 2013.
  3. ^ Reveal, James L. (1999). "Plant Taxonomy". Norton-Brown Herbarium University of Maryland. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Reveal 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "James Reveal papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries". ArchivesUM. 
  6. ^ "Reveal, Arlene (Obituary)". Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah). 28 Feb 2005. 
  7. ^ The elder Reveal collected extensively in California, Nevada, and (with Reid Moran) Baja California, Mexico."Reveal, Jack Lilburn". Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries (Index of Botanists). Harvard University. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Prof. James Lauritz Reveal - In Memoriam". Norton-Brown Herbarium. 
  9. ^ "Reveal, Jim L. (Professor)". Vivo: Research & expertise across Cornell. Cornell University. 
  10. ^ Bodkin, Norlyn L.; Reveal, James L. (1982). "A new variety of Trillium Pusillum (Liliaceae) from the Virginias" (PDF). Brittonia. 34 (2): 141–143. doi:10.2307/2806365. 
  11. ^ "Trillium pusillum Michx. var. virginianum Fern. (syn. Trillium pusillum Michx. var. monticulum Bodkin & Reveal)". Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora. Virginia Botanical Associates. 
  12. ^ "Trillium pusillum var. monticulum Bodkin & Reveal". Smithsonian Learning Lab. Smithsonian Institution. 
  13. ^ Broome, C. Rose (1979). Rare and endangered vascular plant species in Maryland. Newton Corner, MA: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
  14. ^ Reveal, James L. (1992). Gentle conquest: the botanical discovery of North America with illustrations from the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Starwood Pub. ISBN 978-1-56373-002-3. 
  15. ^ "James L. Reveal". Discovering Lewis & Clark. 
  16. ^ "James L. Reveal". North American Rock Garden Society. 
  17. ^ Reveal 1997.
  18. ^ Reveal 1998.
  19. ^ APG II 2003.
  20. ^ APG III 2009.
  21. ^ Chase & Reveal 2009.
  22. ^ Thorne & Reveal 2007.
  23. ^ Reveal 2011.
  24. ^ Reveal 2012.
  25. ^ IPNI.  Reveal. 


External links[edit]

Data related to James L. Reveal at Wikispecies